To the Editor:
I write in response to the recent Director’s Corner by Barry Barish, “Fermilab and Project X,” reprinted in the September 20 edition of Fermilab Today. I would like to
thank Barish for his words of support for Project X, and particularly for his recognition
of Fermilab’s need to plan for a future that balances commitment to building the ILC and
the responsibility for a strong U.S. accelerator-based physics program in the interval
between the end of Tevatron operations and the start of the ILC.
Like Barish, many of us in the U.S. particle physics user community have noted with
appreciation the efforts of Director Pier Oddone and the Steering Group to plan for
Fermilab’s future. Students in particular observe that there is a need for science to “come
home to” after their time at the LHC. Many faculty would redirect their research efforts
toward a strong Fermilab program. Physics is Fermilab’s most precious asset, as attested
by last year’s impressive 115 PhD theses awarded using data from Fermilab experiments.
I also strongly second Barish’s emphasis on the science of Project X. He rightly
observes that it deserves vigorous study by the community, as well as careful
consideration by advisory panels such as P5 and HEPAP. The workshops planned at
Fermilab on November 16—17 and in January will be a good next step in the direction of
defining a compelling science case for the science of Project X—one that we can
communicate at all levels.
I share Barish’s optimism that these two projects, Project X and the ILC, are likely to
be compatible in their technological progress, and his faith in the ability of close
collaboration and good will between the GDE and Fermilab to accomplish a balance
between the needs of Project X and the ILC. On the technical side, the need for expertise
in superconducting RF technology for Project X can spur development of interlaboratory
collaboration, and collaboration with the universities. Such collaboration is very much in
the spirit of the ILC.
What’s in a name? Barish asks. For more than 40 years, Fermilab’s name has meant
leadership in accelerator-based particle physics. With the energy and support of the
particle physics community, the steering group’s proposed plan for the future can keep
Fermilab’s name among the world leaders in our field. I urge the community to pursue
the physics case with vigor and all deliberate speed.
Sacha Kopp is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, a collaborator
on the Fermilab MINOS experiment and the past chair of the Fermilab UEC.